Biometrics is the science of measuring and analyzing the data collected from the body. The advances in wearable technology for athletes in recent years (watches, rings, chest straps, etc.) has led to a boom in the collection of biometrics data. Athletes, coaches, and support personnel now have more information than ever before that can be used to help evaluate and enhance an athlete’s performance.
“Information that we collected in a lab setting with the use of sensors and other tools often took a lot of time and resources,” said David Klossner, PhD, director for sports performance and student-athlete welfare at the Univ of Maryland. “Now, we’re looking to get the data right away. We’re taking the lab to the field. Athletes love instant feedback and coaches love instant feedback.”
But what are the implications of this data collection, and how should it be utilized? Which products and platforms are the most effective and beneficial? And who should have access to the data? Those were among the issues discussed by three expert panelists as part of the 2021 USA Lacrosse Sports Medicine Symposium, presented by MedStar Health.
“The use of athlete biometrics is helping to provide improved communication across the high performance team,” Klossner said. “This includes everyone from the coaches to the medical staff to the strength and conditioning staff, as well as other staff who may not be involved with the athlete every day. We use athlete biometrics to not only improve performance, but also to reduce injuries.”
The panelists noted the importance of having clear goals in the use of biometrics data and having all parties working on the same page.
“There are a lot of different pieces in reaching optimal performance,” said Matt Nein, coordinator of sports performance at Salisbury University. “Desires, goals, and culture are all part of the process. If everyone isn’t speaking the same language, are we going to reach optimal performance?”
Part of the discussion also focused on the ethics of biometric data use and cautionary behavior that may be prudent.
“Sports are a very high-stakes environment, so this is a place where ethics is of paramount importance,” said Dr. Richard Hinton, medical director for MedStar Sports Medicine. “I would say that it’s often the medical and health care providers who are in this loop that have to be the people who pay attention to the ethics. With any biometrics program, we need to be prioritizing the patient (player) centric care.”